The Athlete, the Goal & the Plan: Post-Open Check-In with Haider
Written by Michele Vieux

It’s time to check in again with our friend, Haider, who has followed our Performance Program online from Saudi Arabia, since July of 2018, and has volunteered to take part in this series called, “The Athlete, The Goal & The Plan”. Meet Haider and learn about his SMART goals in these previous articles.

Today we are checking in with Haider to see how he’s coming along with the mini-milestones we set up together, how he enjoyed the Open, and any take-aways he has so far. We will continue to check back with him throughout the year to see where he is with each goal, if he’s hit any plateaus, or other things that need to be addressed, and to watch him check each goal off the list.

So far, there are only a few “concerns” or limiting factors that have come up, so in this phase of the plan, we will find out what those are, decide how to address them, and make any necessary adjustments to the mini-milestone timelines.

#1 -The Open

This is not necessarily a “concern”, according to Haider, but it did replace some of the goal work so a couple of the timelines might need to be adjusted. Haider is ok with this because he wanted to have fun with the Open workouts and test his improvements from last year – which he did!

Q: What was your goal with the Open?
A: My main goal was to be able to do better than last year in overall ranking and to be able to perform certain exercises I could not have done before. These movements were Double-Unders, Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups and Toes-to-Bar.

Q: What have you gained/learned from doing it?
A: I’ve gained more confidence in my capabilities, learned that my efforts spent working out are not for nothing, and learned that I can do better than I think I can (pushing the limits).

Q: How have you improved from last year’s Open?
A: So far, it seems I have improved my ranking by a lot, I survived all Open WODs RX’d, and I was able to perform DU’s, C2B & T2B in an Open at last!

Q: Any other thoughts?
A: I do believe I have the strength and muscle mass to perform better than I should, however, my main constraint is my weight. Once I reduce my fat, I am sure I will see a lot of improvement overall.

#2 – HSPU

Haider has been able to keep up on the static handstand holds throughout the Open but not much else of the supplemental work for this goal except for using the appropriate modifications/substitutions when HSPU come up in workouts.

There are two “limiting factors” for Haider with the HSPU goal. The first is painful pressure on butt of thumb. To address this, he is going to check out this article by Invictus Gymnastics Coach, Travis Ewart, and see if hand position is to blame. If it is not, then we will continue to examine the cause so that we can find a good solution.

Due to a previous injury, he also experiences painful elbow pain/tendonitis on one side. Because of this, I asked him to monitor his volume on his static holds, pressing movements and also on the pull-up negatives in order to mitigate this as much as possible. I recommended him these suggestions for how to care for it when it does get flared up.

I also gave him some new things to try for HSPU progress:

Q: Do you feel like you are still on track with each of the mini-milestones for HSPU?
A: I am on track with the Handstand Hold against the wall, I managed to get 74s which is close to the 90s mini-goal. However, due to the concerns above, I might be off-track with the other two mini-goals.

Mini-Milestones for HSPU

1) Mini-Milestone: Hold a supported handstand for 90 seconds by April 2019
– On track!

2) Mini-Milestone: 5 Wall Climbs with less than 5 seconds rest in between reps by July 2019
– Test, then consider if timeline adjustment is needed.

3) Mini-Milestone: 3 reps of HSPU negatives @ 51A1 tempo by September 2019
– Test, then consider if timeline adjustment is needed.


Sadly, the one thing that is holding him back in this area has been hard to improve upon in just a couple of months, but we are hopeful that we are able to find a good solution for the painful tearing (both feeling and actual) that occurs on his palms whenever he does longer than a 45-second static hold or on high-volume pull-ups, toes-to-bar or any kipping movement. You should have seen his poor hands after 19.2 and 19.5! He has tried a number of taping methods and wraps with no luck. Maybe one of our readers has a pro tip for Haider?

Q: How long can you static hang now? Did you time it recently?
A: I always time my static hang in both positions. I have not improved much on the time but I feel better grip and stronger forearms. However, due to the concern above, it limits me from holding for longer than 40-50s.

Q: Do you feel like you are still on track with each of the mini-milestones for pull-ups?
A: I think I am on track with the static hold and the chin-over-bar hold mini-goals, but not the pull-up negatives @ the prescribed tempo. I would need to retest to see how I feel about these.

Mini-Milestones for Pull-Ups

1) Mini-Milestone: 60-second static hang by April 2019
– On Track!

2) Mini-Milestone: 5 reps of pull-up negatives @ 51A1 tempo by April 2019
– Test, then consider if timeline adjustment is needed.

3) Mini-Milestone: 30-second chin-over-bar hold by July 2019
– On Track!

#4 – Body Comp & Lifestyle

Great news on this front! One of the previous concerns in this area was not getting enough sleep each night. But because of his commitment to his goals, Haider changed gyms so that he would have less of a commute before and after his workout. By doing this, he has been able to get an additional 1-1.5 hours of sleep each night!

And actually, he addressed another previous concern – overtraining – by implementing a rest/maintenance day once a week, even though he was initially resistant to the idea. Even crazier…he just let me know that he’s going to take a couple days off after the Open to let his hands recover, to mentally refresh and to prepare for his upcoming L1. He would have NEVER considered doing this when we first chatted back in January but now sees the value in taking some time off every now and then.

Something he was proactive about addressing is to create a plan for how to eat during Ramadan, since he is living in a country where the holiday is strictly adhered to. Two options we came up with that he’s certain he can implement are below. I am waiting to hear which he chooses.

  • Keto (he has experience with this). Normally people don’t feel too hungry when in ketosis so eating this way will not only help him survive through the daylight hours more comfortably, it will likely also kickstart that last bit of fat loss he’s looking for.
  • Intermittent Fasting

Q: How has your mindset changed around taking a “maintenance” day on Thursdays?
A: I was so skeptical and worried it might negatively impact me, now I wait happily for it and try to improvise it. I call it maintenance day as it is the day where I do full body mobility targeting certain tired muscles the most.

Q: What benefits have you seen from the maintenance day?
A: It gave me better balance into my workouts, more focus and refreshed mindset, and allowed me to perform a little better during the following two days than I used to.

Q: Have you noticed any difference from the extra sleep each night?
A: On the short run, not much difference. However, I did feel I have slightly recovered better in muscle tissue. Also, it did give me more focus and stronger mentality.

What a great start, for Haider! Much progress has already been made and he’s on the path toward each of his goals. Our next step is to have him retest some of of the mini-milestone measurements so that we can make sure the dates for each of the goals and mini-milestones is still feasible. Check back with us to see how close Haider is to that HSPU!

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